“iPhone sales have flatlined since 2015, frustrating the millions of investors in one of the market’s most widely held stocks,” David Goldman writes for CNN Business. “Apple CEO Tim Cook has a plan: Bump up the iPhone’s price and sell customers services and other devices, like Apple Music and the Apple Watch, to go with them. Cook’s strategy has paid off. Apple set sales and profit records a year ago, and it eclipsed a $1 trillion market valuation in August.”
“But gravity is starting to win,” Goldman writes. “It’s not time to panic: Apple remains a healthy company and could survive on inertia alone for years. Despite its revised outlook, Apple still expects to report $84 billion in quarterly sales. That’s a ton of money: That single quarter would be enough to rank No. 33 in last year’s Fortune 500. Still, it’s lower than last year’s holiday quarter, and investors demand growth. If Apple wants to grow again, it’s time for a new plan.”
MacDailyNews Take: To reiterate: Apple’s revenue from one three-month quarter would be 33rd on the Fortune 500 list which ranks companies on annual revenue.
“Cook’s predecessor, the late Steve Jobs, was a product genius. He knew what consumers wanted before most knew they wanted it,” Goldman writes. “Cook has done a masterful job extracting every last penny out of the iPhone money-printing machine that Steve Jobs created… But after Jobs died, Apple failed to deliver a groundbreaking innovation that came close to matching the iPhone’s success.”
MacDailyNews Take: If it isn’t an iPhone, it isn’t an iPhone. Any product looks weak when its compared to the most successful product of all time, Apple’s iPhone.
‘The Apple Watch is the most successful new product Cook’s team devised. It is selling relatively well, but it’s such a small business that Apple didn’t bother breaking out Watch sales (even in those heady days when Apple used to break out segment revenue),” Goldman writes. “Data tracker IDC estimates Apple sold about 20 million watches last year.”
MacDailyNews Take: Apple Watch is not a “small business” to anyone, but Apple Inc. Any other tech company would kill for a huge success like Apple Watch.
“Lacking a ‘next big thing,’ Cook went with the next best thing: He banked on the iPhone’s continued success,” Goldman writes. “But iPhone sales have stagnated — Apple sold fewer iPhones in each of the past three years than it sold in 2015, when Apple debuted the iPhone 6. If iPhone sales fell last quarter, they will have dropped in six of the past 12 quarters.”
Goldman’s painfully obtuse confusion continues in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Units don’t matter. There are only so many quality users on the planet. Keeping them happy, as every measure of customer satisfaction shows Apple has amazingly well done to date, is what matters. As long as the users buy apps on the App Store, subscribe to Apple Music, add iCloud storage, use Apple Pay, etc., they can replace their hardware with Apple hardware at their own pace.
Yes, the iPhone replacement cycle is lengthening, but with so many iPhone (and iPad) users and with customer satisfaction so high, it really doesn’t matter. The market is mature and there are only so many quality users on the planet. Apple has that market cornered. The types of people who’ve settled for Android aren’t likely to buy as many apps or subscribe to services. They want free. They’re not worth much after the sale. The iPhone knockoff peddlers like Samsung can have them.
This is, of course, Apple’s point with ceasing the reporting of unit sales. It’s the user base, the quality of the user base, and services that matter more now. That’s where the growth is and where it will be for many, many years to come. — MacDailyNews, January 5, 2019